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How to fix a refrigerator that's not making ice

Refrigerator not making ice

Have you ever gone to the fridge to grab a cold glass of ice water, only to find that your ice maker isn't working? It's a frustrating, but not uncommon, experience. Asurion Experts are trained and certified to fix all major home appliances, so they know how to get your ice maker working properly again. Here's their step-by-step guide for ice maker troubleshooting.

Why is my ice maker not working?

There are a number of potential reasons your refrigerator is not making ice—but most have simple solutions.

The most common causes are:

  • The water fill tubes are blocked.
  • The water inlet valve is blocked or frozen.
  • The water filter is dirty or clogged.
  • The heating element in the ice machine isn't functioning.
  • A pause command has accidentally been enabled.
  • The thermostat is set too low.
  • The control arm is out of position.

Check the water fill tubes

If your ice maker isn't making ice or if the ice cubes are small or misshapen, the water fill tubes may be the problem. Check the fill cup and the tube at the back of the ice maker. If they are covered in ice, look for a blockage.

If you see an obstruction, check out our guide on how to clean your refrigerator water line for detailed steps. If that doesn't work, consider replacing the water fill tubes.

Inspect your water inlet valve

Water gets to your ice maker from the main supply line in your house. If that line gets blocked, water won't be able to go into your ice maker. If you have particularly hard water, it may be that mineral deposits have created a blockage.

To check the water inlet valve:

  • First shut off the water supply and unplug your refrigerator—this should only take a short amount of time, so you won't have to worry about the items in your fridge being affected if you keep the door closed.
  • Now, find the water valve, which is typically located at the bottom rear of the fridge. To rule out a water supply problem, disconnect the water supply tubing from the valve and place a bucket underneath it to catch any dripping water.
  • Sometimes there is a debris screen located inside the tubing that may become clogged. You can clean the screen with soap and water or a mineral dissolver.
  • Also, check the tubing itself for a blockage and see if the shut-off valve is clean. If the fill tube is frozen, you may just need more water pressure to keep water flowing.

An issue with a water inlet valve can also stem from power not reaching it effectively. If you have electrical skills, you can test the power supply (if not, we recommend you consult with an appliance repair expert). With the water line still disconnected and the power still off, locate the valve's solenoid coils—how many coils your fridge has depends on the make and model. Disconnect the two wires from the terminals located on the coil. Use a multimeter to test the solenoid and see if it is running electricity steadily. If it isn't, it may need to be replaced.

Clean the water filter

Most refrigerators include a water filter. Use your owner's manual, or check the manufacturer's website, to find out how to locate and change your refrigerator filter. It is generally easy to access because it is designed to be changed regularly. Clean it thoroughly, or replace the filter if it's too clogged to clean.

Check the ice maker heating element

When your ice maker is not working, the last thing that you are likely to think about is that it needs more heat. However, most ice machines use heat to move cubes from the trays where they are formed into the receptacle where you can access them.

Unless you have advanced electrical skills, it's probably best to schedule an appointment with a local refrigerator repair pro. Determining whether the heating element is functioning requires a live voltage test, which comes with some risks.

Adjust the thermostat

If the thermostat is set very low, the entire ice maker may be affected, causing water to freeze before it can get to the ice-making mold. Your owner's manual should have a manufacturer-recommended temperature. If your refrigerator is set below this level, this could be the reason for the ice maker not making ice. Raise the temperature and see if that solves the problem.

Check the control arm

Most ice makers use a control arm to pause ice-making so that the bin doesn't overflow. If this gets moved, is lodged on something, or falls off, your machine may create ice uncontrollably—or not at all. Check to make sure that the control arm is in the proper position and that it moves freely (depending on how much ice is in the bin). Unfortunately, normal wear and tear can affect your ice maker's functionality over time. Try these tips to help increase the lifespan of your ice maker and prevent issues before the need for refrigerator repair arises.

4 quick tips to prevent a broken fridge ice maker

  1. Maintain the manufacturer-recommended temperature in your refrigerator.
  2. Don't allow anything to interfere with the control arm.
  3. Clean the water filter regularly.
  4. Periodically clean out water fill tubes and water inlet valves—especially if you have hard water.

My ice maker still isn't working. What should I do?

If you've done your best to troubleshoot your ice maker by yourself and you still aren't seeing any ice, it may be time to consult with a refrigerator expert. Certain ice maker issues can lead to more significant (and more expensive) problems for your refrigerator or freezer over time, so it's important to find a solution ASAP to keep everything working properly.

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